2

How blogging and social media are enriching my life

I began blogging almost by accident. I had a writing project in mind. A-M was encouraging me to get on with it. She had already shown me that blogging was a way of sharing writing. Rather than bombard her with emails, I decided to start my own blog. That was in 2012 – the year we really were empty-nesters.

After about 8 months of blogging on Sue’s considered trifles, where I mainly wrote to a formula and found that my regular readers did not appreciate more experimental posts I began Sue’s Trifles. This was a place to practise writing. I explored the web for challenges. It was late March 2013 and I discovered that the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge was about to begin. I signed up with little idea about how to proceed.

I wrote my posts as I went along. By the last week of April I was ahead of the deadlines. I had fun! I am still following and interacting with some of the bloggers I encountered online through that challenge.

I was persuaded to join Facebook to be able to see the photos another member of the family was posting. It was not something I’d have done otherwise. I had been following public Facebook posts from a particular band tour, so I had some idea about how Facebook worked.

I soon realised I could use it to promote my blogs, but I haven’t really done that well.

More recently (in 2015) I joined the Association of Christian Writers and discovered their activities on Facebook. I also belong to a poetry writing group. It is these groups, which I enjoy most on Facebook.

I knew less about Twitter at the time I joined. Having signed up for Blog Action Day 2013 I was under the impression that a lot of interaction would take place on Twitter. It was a problem to know who to follow at first as I knew hardly anybody involved.

However I got started and wrote a few posts about my early experiences on Twitter.

I prefer Twitter to Facebook. I find it a useful source of information, entertaining and providing some beautiful photography in a quickly accessed format.

I have made new friends on Twitter and Facebook.  My twitter friends are a less homogeneous group.

The interesting part of this story is the way in which my blogging and social media activities began to escape from the computer screen into real life. The first blogger I met was Fletch the Perchcrow. I have visited him and his assistants at Wordsworth House and Garden several times over the blogging years (and earlier). Fletch and I were both short-listed in the first UK Blog awards in 2014. As he couldn’t attend the award ceremony, I went as his representative as well as for my first two blogs. It gave me something interesting to talk about to the other bloggers in London. Hardly any of them knew about Cockermouth, where William and Dorothy Wordsworth lived as children.  (Cockermouth is over 300 miles from London by road.)

At the awards ceremony I also met a handful of bloggers I had met through Twitter chats. One of them made sure I picked up a goody bag!

In October 2015 I attended a writer’s day in London and met some people I had been in contact with online. In June 2016 I went on a writers’ weekend and met even more (and some for the second time). I attended another meeting in London in October 2016. The speakers at these events were all inspirational. I hope something from them has rubbed off on my writing!

Among my other interests I regularly blog about books I have read. If I am able to connect with publishers, authors or organisations with a strong link to any of the books, I do so. When I was given a book by an acquaintance, who had contributed a poem to it, I was pleasantly surprised. (I may well have bought the book, because of its local interest.) My activities online led to an invitation to the book launch, where there happened to be live music from a friend of A-M and interesting conversations with like-minded people.

For Christmas 2016 A-M gave me a book, which has led to another adventure. It was Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, which I reviewed on Sue’s Trifles. As  members of the National Trust hubby and I had received news about an exhibition at Wordsworth House arising from the work of Robert Macfarlane and his parents, who are talented photographers. I mentioned the exhibition in my blog post and tweeted about it. An invitation arrived through the ether to an evening event at Wordsworth House with Robert Macfarlane and his parents and others including those involved with the exhibition. It was a very enjoyable evening.

I have skipped over the fact that I was recommended via a Tweet from someone, who contributed a word to the Landmarks’ glossary, to read another book by Robert Macfarlane and others. This book is Holloway. It is an exquisite little book. I had to request it from the library. A-M has a copy and had been inspired by it to write a lovely song. She has recorded a demo, which Robert Macfarlane has listened to and enjoyed. So have hubby and I.

So the boundaries between online activity and so-called real-life are becoming blurred. The positive aspect of this is that connections are made. Writers encourage one another. There are conversations between writers, artists, photographers, song-writers and others, who use the internet for business purposes. It is all about networking and making connection. A published writer has promised to buy my first poetry book, when I eventually find a way of getting it into print. (I am still an amateur or hobby writer.)

My third blog resulted from a day trip and has led to many more visits to interesting places.

This post is appearing on Easter Day. I wish all my readers the blessings of Easter. May peace and joy be yours.

 

2

What I read in March 2017

I decided to reread some books from my bookshelf. Most people are familiar with CS Lewis’ imaginary land of Narnia since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was made into a film. Lewis’ science fiction trilogy is less well-known.

Science fiction trilogy

Science fiction trilogy

I decided to read it having read The Shadow Doctor in which the hero, Ransom is mentioned. Ransom is a philologist, a student of words and languages. This is necessary for the plot (unless a device such as Douglas Adams’ babel fish is used).

Although I have long been a fan of Lewis’ writing, I felt that one of the reasons his science fiction books did not gain the same popularity as, for example, the works of his friend JRR Tolkien was the language used. There were words, which I should have looked up in a dictionary.

The books are imaginative and the struggle between good and evil is a constant theme in these stories. The evil at times begins in subtle ways and draws people in to a point where it is extremely hard to escape.

I have read this series before, but the details of the stories had not remained with me. Out of the Silent Planet begins in an ordinary way and suddenly has echoes of HG Wells. Perelandra is a satisfactory sequel and has some of the best descriptive passages. That Hideous Strength is in some ways a grown-up parallel to The Last Battle in the Narnia series.

My copies were printed before the revolution in the printing industry. I had forgotten the typos. I am sure a professor of English would not have used metal for mettle – perhaps he dictated to a secretary and the editor missed it. There were a couple of other errors, where spaces in the wrong place left real words, but no sense. The number of errors was about usual for books of that time (and better than many newer books I have read recently).

It would be interesting to learn what was going on in Lewis’ life as he wrote this series. The human interest increased in the final book. Perhaps he had met the lady he married late in life by this time.

Another book I read in March was by an author, who also wrote children’s books. Tove Jansson was well-known for The Moomins. I found a copy of a novel she wrote in a second-hand book sale. It is called “fair play” and was translated from Swedish in a delightful style by Thomas Teal and published by Sort of Books. Although it was published in Swedish in 1989, it was not until 2007 that it appeared in English.

It is a gentle novel about two unconventional women, who are a writer and an artist. Their conversations are totally convincing. A book to enjoy.

I recently read Holloway by Robert Macfarlane and others. It may need a post to itself as it is part of an interesting story about how blogging and social media are enriching my life.

5

List free Blogging from A to Z in April – some tips for WordPress bloggers

The Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge is coming up soon. The Theme reveal, where bloggers advertise their chosen theme for the challenge will be on 20 March 2017.

I have participated every year since 2013, when I came across the challenge just in time to take part.

When I began blogging I had no idea how other bloggers were managing to find my posts. Later on I discovered the WordPress Reader. This is a tool for managing the blogs you follow and for finding blog posts on any topic.

I use the category Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and (among others) the tags A to Z, April, challenge, Letter A (etc.), blogging challenge. It is important not to use more than 15 categories and tags in total. As I understand it, too many prevent the post showing in the reader.

Many of the blogs I follow in the Reader are those of A to Z bloggers from previous challenges. There is the opportunity to add more – even from blogging platforms other than WordPress. For these it is necessary to copy the URL of the blog into a space on the Reader and click follow.

Searching in the Reader allows bloggers to find the most recent posts with the category or tag selected. This may help bloggers, who post their comments way down any list on the Blogging from A to Z website or Facebook page.

Adding links to these lists is also useful for driving traffic to your blog (I mean encouraging other A to Z Bloggers to visit 🙂 )

It is also important to continue sharing your links in whatever is your usual way, eg on your own writer’s Facebook page, Twitter, etc.

Have you any tips for this year’s A to Z challenge?